There was a lot to love about our 2010 Social Commerce Summit in London – the fantastic BFI IMAX at Waterloo venue, the exciting lineup of speakers, and of course the after-party at Waterloo Brasserie. But one thing I always look forward to is the chance to recognise our international clients using consumer-generated content in new and innovative ways to change their businesses. Our international Social Commerce Awards did just that. This year’s winners include:

Launch of the Year: B&Q. B&Q dove headfirst into social commerce this year, launching customer reviews, Q&A, and stories on their site, all under one collaborative community they dubbed the “Social Hub.” The launch coincided with B&Q’s addition of information on how to submit reviews to their order confirmation emails, packing slips, and in-store till receipts. The Social Hub now receives over 4,000 page views per day, and B&Q has seen a 60% increase in review submission volume per week.

Best Use of UGC in Email: Laithwaites Wines. Laithwaites Wines sent an email to their entire marketing database featuring their “Five Star Selection” – top-rated wines as chosen by customers. The email creative featured star ratings and snippets from actual customer reviews. The campaign outperformed the their previous email campaign, with a 27% higher open rate and 32% higher total number of orders.

Laithwaites Wines features top-rated wines in email

Campaign of the Year: Homebase. Homebase has two very distinct groups of customers: in-store and online. While online customers were reviewing products, the retailer recognised a missed opportunity to solicit reviews from their in-store shoppers. They soon uncovered a common denominator between the two: use of the Nectar loyalty card. Homebase worked with Nectar to gather contact information for customers who used their Nectar card in-store or online, and invited these customers to review in a contest featuring a 100,000 Nectar points. The campaign generated a 56% increase in total reviews, and a 7% increase in active product review coverage.

Rookie of the Year: The Phone House Sweden. The Phone House has been live with customer reviews for less than six months, but they’re already using reviews in multichannel advertising to grab customer attention. Their review content now powers brochures, ads in mobile phone magazines, in-store signage, and radio campaigns, and the retailer is even working on a review-powered TV spot. The Phone House is currently exploring the possibility of sending SMS texts to in-store shoppers, encouraging them to review their purchases.

The ‘Customer Oxygen’ Award: Conrad Netherlands. Not only has Europe’s biggest electronics and technical products retailer increased conversions as a result of reviews, but they’re using information found in reviews to innovate across their business. Once reviews pass through Bazaarvoice’s moderation team, Conrad’s own team of Category Managers go through review reports to find any customer questions or product issues, and sends a report to the Communication department. The Communication team posts official comments on some reviews where additional info is needed. The team then sends a report to Customer Service, who contacts individual customers to answer all questions and resolve any issues.

Social Commerce Rockstar: Evans Cycles. Evans Cycles has taken their UGC multichannel and across their business. They use review content in seasonal catalogues reaching 200,000 customers, as well as in all marketing email. The retailer solicits reviews on their site, through post-purchase emails, and on store receipts. Their “Ride it & Rate it” program lets select customers use and review merchandise not yet publicly available on their company blog. They recently launched Q&A, and badged all employees to build credibility in their answers to customer questions. Additionally, they deliver regular reports based on reviews and Q&A. Category and brand managers take action on negative feedback when necessary. The marketing team uses reviews and Q&A in emails, catalogues, and other campaigns. Web and content teams use UGC to review and change product copy where necessary. Evans Cycles has truly embraced UGC, and is using it across their organisation to improve the customer experience.

Evans Cycles' "Ride it & Rate it" program

The Innovator Award: Appliance-Reviews.co.uk. When DRL Limited added a ratings filter to their main site, they noticed it quickly became the third most-clicked filter. This drove the appliance retailer to launch a radical site navigation redesign on their dedicated review site, Appliance-Reviews.co.uk. The new site aggregates thousands of reviews into a single hub, making it the most customer-centric site for appliance research. Rather than searching by product feature, customers can now narrow searches by consumer group to find products rated highest by people like them. Aspects include product rating, reviewer age, family size, gender, etc., as well as review aspects like “easy to use” and “good quality.” So, for example, a shopper can search for a washing machine that is quiet, easy to use, suitable for large families, and rated highly by reviewers over age 65. Since the redesign, bounce rate has dropped by 312%, time on site has more than doubled, page views per visitor has more than tripled, and returning visitor rate has increased by 46%. Conversion traffic from Appliance-Reviews.co.uk has tripled to 15.1%.

Photo and video reviews at Appliance-Reviews.co.uk

These winners are just a sample of our numerous international clients driving sales and building better businesses by operationalising UGC. For more client stories, check out our case studies. Thanks to all of our speakers and attendees for making this our best London Summit yet!

Check out this video of the event:

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[ youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H2Ncxw1xfck]

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